Perceptions of Political Leaders' Utterances and Their Influence on Inter-ethnic Relations in Kasarani Sub-county Nairobi City County, Kenya
Njoroge, Serah W
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Kenya being a multi-ethnic nation seems to experience numerous effects on inter-ethnic relations due to politically motivated utterances. However, it is the interpretation of this utterances and the perceptions people form that determine the impact it has on a nation. This was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted in Kasarani Sub-County in Nairobi City County, Kenya. The purpose of the study was to tease out the perceptions of political leaders’ utterances and their influence on inter-ethnic relations. The specific objectives of the study were to analyse perception people have on political leaders’ utterances, to discuss aspects of inter-ethnic relations affected by these perceptions and to examine emerging patterns of inter-ethnic relations as a result of the perceptions. The study seeks to address the role of perceptions on political leaders’ utterances in influencing inter-ethnic relations given the ethnic conflicts differences that have occurred in Kenya in the recent past. The study was guided by relevance theory that poses that to understand an utterance requires more than linguistic decoding and media dependency theory that explains that people in urban area rely on mass communication to obtain information they need for day to day decision making. Qualitative data techniques were used to collect qualitative data. Forty in-depth interviews were conducted, four focus group discussions were conducted with purposive selected participants based on age, gender and ethnic affiliation. Four key informants were purposively selected to gather more data on the study. Data was transcribed, emerging themes identified and analyzed using Nvivo (version 12), and the findings were presented in narrative, verbal quotes and tables. The findings indicated socialization, gender and ethnic affiliation played a major role in how a person perceived political leaders’ utterances and how they interacted with other people. The value a person attached to political leaders and the utterances they made affected how they related with people of other ethnic group whether positively or negatively. Economic relations, social relations, place of residence and employment were among aspects of inter-ethnic relations that were affected both positively and negatively. There were notable patterns of inter-ethnic relations where people engaged in ethnic disunity during each election period, avoid political discussion and change how they react socially. This study unveiled the possible cause of continuous ethnic division that occurs during and after each election period where the country incurs loss of lives, ethnic rivalry and economic loss. The study helps people recognize there is a role they play in building or tearing down the nation though the focus for a long time has been on the leaders who are entirely blamed for such outcome. There is a need to explore the role the media plays in shaping perceptions of political leaders’ utterances given that they are the custodians of either good news or bad news as narrated by the leaders, and the effect they bring on inter-ethnic relation. This could present future researchers with an area to explore. Given the large audience political leaders have the study recommends that media council of Kenya see to it that journalists are responsible as to how they package political leaders’ utterances to avoid bringing more ethnic division. Political leaders, should make a conscious decision to pay keen attention to what they tell their audience since the effect of their interpretation cannot be undone. National cohesion and integration commission should sensitize people to develop tight ethnic ties that cannot be shaken by what political leaders say.
University of Nairobi
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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